Sunday, December 31, 2017

7 Ways to Partner with Businesses & Other Lessons from @Puhsd_PCA

Principal Seth Beute addresses tech leaders
at the Phoenix Coding Academy
The Phoenix Coding Academy is an innovative school in Arizona that partners with businesses to ensure students are prepared to enter a  job market where technology skills are a basic requirement. This is critically important because employment opportunities in technology-related careers are growing at a faster rate than other industries.

A group of ed tech leaders from around the country had the opportunity to visit the school and see what works first hand as part of the Tech & Learning Leadership Summit in Arizona.  Here's what they learned.

Seven Ways to Partner with Businesses

Principal Seth Beute explained seven ways the school successfully partners with businesses. This includes providing:
  1. Job shadowing opportunities
  2. Mentorships to all students
  3. Internships for seniors
  4. Guest instructors
  5. Field trips
  6. Serve on advisory councils where they provide an input on the curriculum and ways it can be aligned to the skills needed to work in technology fields
  7. Support at community events showcasing the school

Develop Talent from Underrepresented Populations

These businesses also realize the need to develop more talent from underrepresented groups. Partnering with a community school helps them meet that challenge. Students at the school explained some ways businesses attract these groups to careers involving technology.
  1. Go where these populations are and show them what is available.
  2. Show these students that tech careers are reachable for them.
  3. Connect students to a learning network of others who look like them who are successful in this industry.

Student-Center Academic Approach

During the tour, visiting tech leaders had the opportunity to see the school’s student-centered academic approach. This starts with ensuring everyone in the school is familiar with the strengths of the students and staff. They do this by prominently posting the students strength profiles using a tool called Indigo (similar to Thrively aka Myers Briggs for young people) as a constant reminder of the collective talent & intelligence that surrounds and supports students and staff. Educators and students can use these profiles to customize their school work to ensure what they do best matches the needs indicated in their learning profiles. The profiles also help students see the type of career that might be best matched to their strengths.

Bullying Be Gone

So, what happens when you gather a whole bunch of self-proclaimed geeks together? The students shared that the geek-factor that brought them together is one that in their middle school settings often led to them being the target of bullying. However, this common interest in high school has helped to build a community of like-minded individuals who support and collaborate with one another. As a result, bullying is not a big problem at the high school.

A Leg Up On Peers

Students explained the value they recognized in attending a school that helps them get an early start on the career they will pursue after high school or college. They said they felt with the exposure to the course work and businesses that they were in a school that placed them far ahead of the game because they didn’t have to waste time taking classes that don’t align to their future goals.

Your Turn

So what do you think? Do you incorporate any of these ideas where you work? If so, which ones? If not, could you?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Don't Keep Holiday Photos Trapped In Your Phone: Create Home Movies on iOS or Android

The holidays are here. You've taken tons of pictures and some video too. Once all the excitement dies down, you might want to capture those memories to look back upon in a home movie to look back upon in the future as well as share with loved ones who are unable to join you for the holidays. Today, doing that is a whole lot easier then it was even a few years ago. 

Here is what you need to know to get going.

GoPro Quik

For the adventurous there is an app made by the makers of GoPro. It's called Quik and while it integrates with GoPro cameras, it works across platforms. It's know for making fast, fun, videos that are beautiful.  Learn more here

Apple Clips

If you want to stick with Apple, they have a nifty new movie making app out this year called Clips which you can read about here

Google Photos

Whether you have iOS or Android, you might want to use Google since it has unlimited storage for photos and video. You can read how to Get Going with Google Movies and here are 8 Tips for Movie Making.


All three options are free.  Visit the links below to download the option you want to try.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Strategic Abandonment: When to Welcome It & 4 Ideas to Avoid It. #TLTechLive

Image result for strategic abandonmentWhen it comes to technology, sometimes it makes sense to welcome the concept of strategic abandonment. This means providing permission to stop doing things that have proved ineffective or inefficient. It doesn’t matter if you’ve invested millions of dollars and tons of time. If it’s not serving children, let go.

This was one of the ideas that was discussed by a group of innovative district leaders who came together from around the country to explore important issues at the Tech & Learning Leadership Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. When it comes to technology there are numerous examples of this. There are also some ideas to minimize the need to do so.

The most notable recent example of this was the iPad debacle in Los Angeles which brought down careers as well as negatively impacted the reputations of Apple and Pearson. On the other coast a few years earlier,New York City schools abandoned their Achievement Reporting & Innovation System due to extremely high cost and its limited functionality. Once the decision was made, just like that it was lights out for a system in which the city paid millions and spent tons of time on training staff and families.

While welcoming strategic abandonment was the right decision for each district, there are some ways to avoid such issues in the first place.

4 Ways to Avoid Strategic Abandonment

1) Remember the why

Explaining the “why” behind the decision to make these investments must be stated upfront and include a clear vision of what it looks like when it is working. You should be able to measure against the why as well. In L.A. it was so students could have access to interactive curriculum on devices. Not all that compelling, but a “why” nonetheless, however, the curriculum couldn’t be accessed effectively, which brings us to the way to avoid strategic abandonment.

2) Partners have skin in the game & penalties

There should be stipulations in the contract up front stating that what the vendor is promising will work and penalties if it does not. For example, in the case of Los Angeles, they could not get the curriculum to work on the devices. It was so bad that most schools just abandoned it. So Los Angeles went to court to seek a multi-million dollar refund from Apple and Pearson because they didn't live up to their promises. In New York City, ARIS did not have the functionality promised, but unlike in Los Angeles, IBM, the vendor was not held accountable for not delivering what was promised.

3) Test your product

In L.A. the curriculum was purchased without seeing a successful deployment elsewhere. That’s because it didn’t exist. Furthermore it only takes a little asking around of teachers using iPads to discover that device management is costly and quite difficult in comparison to Chromebooks.

4) Involve stakeholders

In both cases the school districts had not connected with key stakeholders around what they wanted. Doing so could have prevented the issue. That’s what they did in Denton Independent School District in Texas. They selected a device only after they surveyed, observed, and recorded video interviews of students discussing preferred devices. As a result they purchased Chromebook touch devices. They wanted the keyboard, touch screen, instant on, and long battery life that other options did not provide. Students knew they were a part of the decision which helped them own and have agency in their learning.

Your turn

What do you think? Are there some initiatives where you work where you think it makes sense to welcome strategic abandonment? Were any of the strategies to avoid it part of the reason why it didn’t work out? Do you have a process in place to help ensure success?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The 3 Hottest Posts on The Innovative Educator

Haven’t been keeping up with The Innovative Educator? Don’t worry. That’s what this wrap up is for.

What’s hot? Classroom Management & Tech Considerations

The top post features infographics designed by innovative educator and graphic designer Eileen Lennon. She provides a visually pleasing way to think about management in the modern classroom.

Next up is a post that provides ideas on some ways that are better than test scores to measure return on investment when it comes to tech in schools.

Rounding out the top is a post where we look at defining the “Why” behind integrating technology into schools.

So what are you waiting for? Now's your chance. Take a look at the articles below and click the link to read one(s) that looks of interest to you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

When Short Term Thinking Is Key To #EdTech Success

Schools and districts usually simply accept the fact that they are bound by antiquated rules, policies, and purchasing requirements that keep children stuck in the past. However, to prepare modern learners, districts must update outdated policies and purchasing practices by thinking short term. 

This was one of the key takeaways from a group of innovative district leaders who came together from around the country to explore important issues at the Tech & Learning Leadership Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.  Here are some ideas for how to begin.

Planning & Purchasing: Replace Long Term with Short Term

The five-year tech plan or five-year warranty requirement are no longer relevant today. The speed of change should be causing learning institutions to rethink how frequently we are assessing and updating our resources. Schools and districts must move from places with decades old furniture and equipment to ones that are agile and adapt. For example, consider moves from purchasing to leasing. Reduce cost with one-year rather than five year warranties. 

Update Outdated Policies and Guidelines

This is true whether discussing furniture, equipment, software, or policies and guidelines. 

For example, today, the research shows that social spaces, music, and video all have educational value, yet such resources are often still blocked in schools using filtering software they have not updated in a decade. Update the guidelines to embrace the use of these tools and change filtering policies. Bring students into these conversations.

Short-Term Subscriptions Can Keep Technology Applications Current

Some schools and districts purchase multi-year software application licenses even when products are not keeping pace with technology and should be dropped until they do. Case in point is Minecraft which has a complicated subscription structure which is not school friendly and still does not work on Chromebooks, the most popular devices in schools today. Another example is iReady which has not kept pace with the times. Because it uses flash, it is rendered useless at many schools whose more modern devices run HTML5 not flash. Short-term contracts help put pressure on companies to stay current and are only renewed when licensing, subscriptions, and functionality keep up with the times. 

From Long-Lasting to Ikea-izing Classroom Furniture

The same is true for furniture and other elements of the learning environment. Flexible design with low cost items results in being less locked into an investment. Bean bag chairs. Bouncy balls. Pillows. Rugs. High top tables for conversation and working while standing up. Mobile, convertible furniture that meets the needs of the learning. One school is using $30 pop up tents as green screens for students. There are easy ways to create flexible learning environments without breaking the bank.